Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Illusion Of Improvement

So one more thought on Valencia.  I've seen a bunch of self-congratulatory blather in the media from a bunch of teams which normally don't feature in the points talking about how much they improved for this race.  The problem is that A) this race saw higher attrition than we normally would see, and B) the attrition was sharply biased towards the normal front of the grid, benefiting far more drivers than normal.

Consider that if Vettel and Grosjean's Renault engines not gone bang, your podium top three would have been Vettel- Alonso- Grosjean.  Pretend that Maldonaldo and Hamilton had kept their heads rather than running into each other, and suddenly Schumacher's impressive third becomes a less-impressive seventh -- still his best result of the season but less than we've expected. Webber plummets to eighth.  Many of the rest of the accidental points scorers get pushed back out into the cold.

So personally I'm not as impressed with the improvement these teams are claiming.

Yes, you have to be in the right place to profit from other people's problems, but so many of these places benefited from the abnormally high attrition rate that you can't seriously claim drastic improvement.

Now in the old days of F1 when the attrition rate was regularly higher, with fewer than 14 cars routinely running at the flag, seeing improvements was legitimate because you could count on the attrition rate continuing to be high.  Today, when usually we only loose one or two cars, and sometimes not even that, you can't count on cars ahead of you falling away.

(I'm not counting the absence of either Massa or Button as a contributing factor, since while in the long run it is, in the recent past it has unfortunately been business as usual for these two drivers.)